This year, the co-heads of Concord Academy’s Intersectional Organization, previously known as Women’s Org, decided to change the club’s name. Though it may have seemed like an abrupt change, the name “Women’s Org” had been in question for over three years. In an interview, the four co-heads of IFO and Courtney Fields, the club’s faculty advisor, answered the following questions: why was the name change necessary, and what does it mean to them? What exactly does it means to be an intersectional feminist?
To explain the purpose of the name change, Kiran Bhat ’22 and Yehrim Hwang ’21 spoke about the issues with the previous name. They both mentioned that the possessive apostrophe in the name alluded to the idea that the club was for women and women only. Kiran said, “It’s not just females in the space and who we want to center in the space.” Courtney explained why the apostrophe was there in the first place: when she came to CA, Women’s Org was, “An affinity space for predominantly cis white women to talk about misogyny.”
Since then, the club has seen more and more gender identities express their experiences with misogyny, which raised the question of whether or not the name Women’s Org was appropriate. Lilia Kasdon ’22 shared that “the term ‘womxn’ with an x originally came from the LGTQIA+ community in order to include people who do not identify with the gender binary in feminist work. However, many trans and nonbinary people have shared that they do not find this term inclusive. As an organization, we want to affirm everyone’s identities, and we believe that feminism should be inclusive of everyone. Thus, we decided to change our name to Intersectional Feminist Organization, a name that we feel affirms all identities and centers the voices of those who have been targeted by misogyny.”
Regarding how long it took for the co-heads to change the name, Emmy McCormack ’22 stated, “I genuinely think it probably took seconds.” The other co-heads nodded in agreement. Emmy continued, “It was just a unanimous feeling and decision that Women’s Org doesn’t properly communicate the people we serve and the goals we have.”
It is important to note that the name change is solely for representational purposes. Yehrim verified this in saying, “The foundational intent [of Women’s Org], as well as the overall message, was still pretty consistent as to what we are trying to achieve now. What we were talking about was aimed at the intersectional aspect of intersectional feminism.”
At CA, the Intersectional Feminist Organization co-heads understand that achieving the goals of feministic ideology in a male-dominated society is not truly attainable. “You can’t have a liberated society in a male-dominated society, they are mutually oppositional,” said Coutney. Achieving these goals would take global systematic change. Kiran commented that while she is mindful of the larger scale of her actions, she focuses on making small changes within the communities she’s a part of at CA.
IFO’s description states that, “IFO is open to people of all genders and aims to center all those who have experienced individual, interpersonal, and systemic experiences of misogyny and patriarchal oppression.” The name change is representative of understanding and adaptability, which are core CA beliefs that make it the community we see today.